Notes and Comment
On October 12, 1980, President Carter signed into law the “Magnetic Fusion Energy Engineering Act of 1980.” The act was based on House and Senate Bills sponsored by Rep. M. McCormack (DWash.) and Sen. P. Tsongas (D-Mass.), which had passed both houses of Congress with very strong bipartisan support and presumably represents the views of the new Congress also. The act advocates substantial increases in funding level for the Magnetic Fusion Program (doubling in real dollars in five to seven years), and describes as national goals both the demonstration of engineering feasibility by the early 1990s and the operation of a demonstration plant by “the turn of the 21st century.” It also instructs the Secretary of Energy to initiate design activities for a fusion engineering device and to develop a plan for a national magnetic fusion engineering center. Although formally independent of the 1980 Department of Energy Energy Research Advisory Board Fusion Review Panel, (the “Buchsbaum Committee”), the act’s passage was eased by the generally favorable conclusions of the panel. The emphasis in the final version of the House Senate bills on construction of a fusion engineering device and the development of a fusion engineering center are strong echos of the Buchsbaum Committee’s recommendations. We reproduce below the complete text of the Magnetic Fusion Energy Engineering Act of 1980. We suspect that the rather broad policy statements will be interpreted in light of the more detailed recommendations of the ERAB Review Panel. If this should turn out to be the case, we will reprint selected portions of that review in future issues.
Findings and Policy
Sec. 2(a). The Congress hereby finds that:
2. the energy policy of the United States must be designed to ensure that energy technologies using essentially inexhaustible resources are commercially available at a time prior to serious depletion of conventional resources;
3. fusion energy is one of the few known energy sources which are essentially inexhaustible, and thus constitutes a long-term energy option;
4. major progress in all aspects of magnetic fusion energy technology during the past decade instills confidence that power production from fusion energy systems is achievable;
5. the United States must aggressively pursue research and development programs in magnetic fusion designed to foster advanced concepts and advanced technology and to develop efficient, reliable components and subsystems;
6. to ensure the timely commercialization of magnetic fusion energy systems, the United States must demonstrate at an early date the engineering feasibility of magnetic fusion energy systems;
7. progress in magnetic fusion energy systems is currently limited by the funds made available rather than technical barriers;
8. it is a proper role for the Federal Government to accelerate research, development, and demonstrate programs in magnetic fusion energy technologies; and 9. acceleration of the current magnetic fusion program will require a doubling within seven years of the present funding level without consideration of inflation and a 25 percent increase in funding each of fiscal years 1982 and 1983.
9. acceleration of the current magnetic fusion program will require a doubling within seven years of the present funding level without consideration of inflation and a 25 percent increase in funding each of fiscal years 1982 and 1983.
2. to establish a national goal of demonstrating the engineering feasibility of magnetic fusion by the early 1990s;
3. to achieve at the earliest practicable time, but not later than the year 1990, operation of a magnetic fusion engineering device based on the best available confinement concept;
4. to establish as a national goal the operation of a magnetic fusion demonstration plant at the turn of the twenty-first century;
5. to foster cooperation in magnetic fusion research and development among government, universities, industry, and national laboratories;
6. to promote the broad participation of domestic industry in the national magnetic fusion program;
7. to continue international cooperation in magnetic fusion research for the benefit of all nations;
8. to promote greater public understanding of magnetic fusion; and
9. to maintain the United States as the world leader in magnetic fusion.
1. “fusion” means a process whereby two light nuclei, such as deuterium and tritium, collide at high velocity, forming a compound nucleus, which subsequently separates into constituents which are different from the original colliding nuclei, and which carry away the accompanying energy release;
2. “magnetic fusion” means the use of magnetic fields to confine a very hot, fully ionized gas of light nuclei, so that the fusion process can occur;
3. “energy system” means a facility designed to utilize energy released in the magnetic fusion process for the generation of electricity and the production of hydrogen or other fuels;
4. “fusion engineering device” means a magnetic fusion facility which achieves at least a burning plasma and serves to test components for engineering purposes;
5. “demonstration plant” means a prototype energy system which is of sufficient size to provide safety, environmental reliability, availability, and ready engineering extrapolation of all components to commercial size but which system needs not be economically competitive with then alternative energy sources; and
6. “Secretary” means Secretary of Energy.
Sec. 4.(a) The Secretary shall initiate activities or accelerate existing activities in research areas in which the lack of knowledge limits magnetic fusion energy systems in order to ensure the achievement of the purposes of this Act.
3. The Secretary shall ensure that research on properties of materials likely to be required for the construction of fusion engineering devices is adequate to provide timely information for the design of such devices.
2. The Secretary shall develop and test the adequacy of the engineering design of components to be utilized in the fusion engineering device.
(d) The Secretary shall initiate at the earliest practical time each activity which he deems necessary to achieve the national goal for operation of a demonstration plant at the turn of the twenty-first century.
(e) The Secretary shall continue efforts to assess which will determine the commercial introof magnetic fusion energy systems including, limited to:
- projected costs relative to other alternative energy sources;
- projected growth rates in energy demand;
- safety-related design limitations;
- environmental impacts; and
- limitations on the availability of strategic elements, such as helium, lithium, and special metals.
Comprehensive Program Management Plan
Sec. 5 (a) The Secretary shall prepare a comprehensive program management plan for the conduct of the research, development, and demonstration activities under this Act. Such plan shall include at a minimum:
2. a five-year program implementation schedule, including identification of detailed milestone goals, with associated budget and program resources requirements;
3. risk assessments;
4. supporting research and development needed to solve problems which may inhibit or limit development of magnetic fusion energy systems; and
5. an analysis of institutional, environmental, and economic considerations which are limiting the national magnetic fusion program.
(b) The Secretary shall transmit the comprehensive program management plan to the Committee on Science and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and National Resources of the Senate not later than January 1, 1982.
Magnetic Fusion Engineering Center
Sec. 6. (a) The Secretary shall develop a plan for the creation of a national magnetic fusion engineering center for the purpose of accelerating fusion technology development via the concentration and coordination of major magnetic fusion engineering devices and associated activities at such a national center.
2. means of providing common facilities to be shared by many magnetic fusion concepts;
3. assessment of the environmental and safetyrelated aspects of the national center;
4. provisions for international cooperation in magnetic fusion activities at the national center;
5. provision of access to facilities for the broader technical involvement of domestic industry and universities in the magnetic fusion energy program;
6. siting criteria for the national center include a list of potential sites;
7. the advisability of establishing such a center considering all factors, including the alternative means and associated costs of pursuing such technology; and
8. changes in the management structure of the magnetic fusion program to allow more effective direction of activities related to the national center.
(c) The Secretary shall submit not later than July 1, 1981, a report to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources characterizing the plan and setting forth the steps necessary for implementation of the plan, including any steps already implemented.
Technical Panel on Magnetic Fusion
Sec. 7. (a) A technical panel on magnetic fusion of the Energy Research Advisory Board shall be established to review the conduct of the national magnetic fusion energy program.
(c) The activities of the technical panel shall be in compliance with any laws and regulations guiding the activities of technical and fact-finding groups reporting to the Energy Research Advisory Board.
(d) The technical panel shall review and may make recommendations on the following items, among others:
2. the type of future facilities needed to meet the goal of this Act along with their projected completion dates;
3. the adequacy of participation by universities and industry in the program;
4. the adequacy of international cooperation in magnetic fusion and any problems associated therewith; and
5. institutional, environmental, and economic factors limiting, or prospectively limiting, efforts to achieve commercial application of magnetic fusion energy systems.
(e) The technical board shall submit to the Energy Research Advisory Board on at least a triennial basis a written report of its findings and recommendations with regard to the magnetic fusion program
(f) After consideration of the technical panel report, the Energy Research Advisory Board shall submit such report, together with any comments such Board deems appropriate, to the Secretary.
Program Advisory Committees
Sec. 8. The Secretary may direct the director of each laboratory or installation at which a major magnetic fusion facility is operated for, or funded primarily by, the Federal Government to establish, for the sole purpose of providing advice to such director, a program advisory committee composed of persons with expertise in magnetic fusion from such domestic industry, universities, government laboratories, and other scientific and technical organizations as such director deems appropriate.
Sec. 9. (a) 1. The Secretary in consultation with the Secretary of State shall actively seek to enter into or to strengthen existing international cooperative agreements in magnetic fusion research and development activities of mutual benefit to all parties.
(b) 1. The Secretary shall examine the potential impacts on the national magnetic fusion program of United States’ participation in an international effort to construct fusion engineering devices.
3. Within two years of the enactment of this Act the Secretary shall transmit to the House Committee on Science and Technology and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources the results of such examinations and explorations with his recommendations for construction of a national or international fusion engineering device: provided, however, that such examinations and explorations shall not have the effect of delaying design activities related to a national fusion engineering device.
Technical Manpower Requirements
Sec. 10. (a) The Secretary shall assess the adequacy of the projected United States supply of manpower in the engineering and scientific disciplines required to achieve the purposes of this Act taking cognizance of the
other demands likely to be placed on such manpower supply.
Sec. 11 (a) The Secretary shall take all necessary steps to assure that technical information relevant to the status and progress of the national magnetic fusion program is made readily available to interested persons in domestic industry and universities in the United States: provided, however, that upon a showing to the Secretary by any person that any information or portion thereof provided to the Secretary directly or indirectly from such person would, if made public, divulge (1) trade secrets or, (2) other proprietary information of such person, the Secretary shall not disclose such information and disclosure thereof shall be punishable under section 1905, of title 18, United States Code.
Sec. 12. As a separate part of the annual report submitted pursuant to section 801 of the Department of Energy Organization Act (Public Law 95-91), the Secretary shall submit to Congress an annual report of activities pursuant to this Act. Such report shall include:
(b) an evaluation of the status of national magnetic fusion energy program in the United States;
(c) a summary of the findings and recommendations of any report of the Energy Research Advisory Board on magnetic fusion;
(d) an analysis of the progress made in commercializing magnetic fusion technology;
(e) suggestions for improvements in the national magnetic fusion program, including recommendations for legislation.
Authorization of Appropriations
Sec. 13. (a) There is hereby authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary, for the fiscal year ending September 30, 1981, such sums as are provided in the annual authorization Act pursuant to Section 660 of Public Law.